What About Holding People Responsible?

You could be excused for being a terrorist mastermind in Grozny – the capital of Chechnya – and sleeping rather soundly tonight.

Glaringly omitted from President Obama’s remarks Friday evening after the capture of the second terrorist was any mention of bringing justice to those who planned and supported this, and combating whatever group is responsible.

Here’s what we got instead:

We will determine what happened. We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had. And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.

Oh, jolly, there will be an INVESTIGATION.

Look, I get that there’s a possibility that these two cooked this thing up between bong hits in their parents’ attic.

But one of them just spend six months in Russia, and the Russian government suspected him of having ties to terrorists. Our leader could have at least said that IF there are those overseas who are responsible, we will make corpses out of them too.

There is something about this president that seems to not want to accept that there is a systemic problem here: Islamism and its vicious foot soldiers – most prominently, al Qaeda – who want to do away with our freedom.

What’s more, the problem seems to be expanding in that those overseas are succeeding in convincing American citizens and residents to act against their own country.

Obama seemed to reference this when he noted that we need to answer the question, “why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?” But you almost get the sense he thinks they may have needed better early childhood education and healthier school lunches.

And Obama needs to understand that this conspiracy of hatred got through our defenses this time, as did those who planned and attacked our consulate in Benghazi seven months ago.

Whatever they thought they could ultimately achieve, they’ve already failed.  They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated.  They failed because, as Americans, we refused to be terrorized.

Well, actually, they succeeded. They killed four people and ruined the lives of many others.

No one believes more strongly than I do in the American spirit. But Obama seems to be minimizing in his own head the danger we face and failing to grasp the WAR on terrorism in which we are engaged. Or supposed to be engaged.

And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.

After all, one of the things that makes America the greatest nation on Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is that we welcome people from all around the world — people of every faith, every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe.  So as we continue to learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let’s make sure that we sustain that spirit.

Okay, I agree. This must not be about assailing the Muslim religion, it’s about finding extremists within it. But if such thinking means that the FBI must decide out of fairness it needs to send one agent to monitor the local Quaker meeting house for every agent it sends to the downtown mosque, then he’s got it all wrong.

After the attacks on Monday, I directed the full resources of the federal government to be made available to help state and local authorities in the investigation and to increase security as needed.  Over the past week, close coordination among federal, state, and local officials — sharing information, moving swiftly to track down leads — has been critical to this effort.

Well, while you’re patting yourself on the back, where’s your statement about getting to the bottom of why this attack slipped through the cracks of our counterterrorism firewall?

Our enemies are finding out that terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests are doable. We need to figure out why this is so and make sure we confront our enemies, not just put Dzhokar Tsarnaev on trial as if this were a criminal matter.

Keith Koffler


Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at whitehousedossier.com.

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  • James H, London

    If, as the media had hoped, the perpetrators had been Texan separatists or anti-abortion activists, would BO have been so keen that we ‘not rush to judgement’?

    Worth pondering…

  • Graeme

    Maybe he’s just speaking softly and carrying a big stick?

  • Justin

    “Make corpses of them too” doesn’t seem like a very good Christian message?

  • Martin

    An eye for an eye Justin.

  • John

    To be honest, I’m getting rather sick of our response to these things always being defiantly exalting the “American spirit,” talking about how we will not be defeated, how we will bring justice to our enemies and “make corpses” out of them. Of course I want justice and any terror ties to be rooted out and neutralized, and I absolutely do not “blame America” for these attacks. Still, if we really want to take justice seriously, we need to start with our own pagan culture of death. And a little humility would not be out of line.

  • Agnes Marsala

    How can you, with a straight face go one about holding people responsible? When has the church EVER held it’s leaders responsible for their heinous acts? I would think an investigation of some of the goings on right here, in say, Bordentown, NJ would be a positive first step. Remember, the church lives in a great big glass house, and maybe before you start throwing stones, you should look a little closer to home. I’m not comparing the senseless murder of those in Boston to the lack of simple compassion for children but the corruption and coverup in The Diocese of Trenton is appalling!

  • catholicexchange

    Ms. Marsala, Mr. Koffler is Jewish.

  • Agnes Marsala

    Sorry, I thought Mr. Koffler was writing for this organization, not as a freelancer you copied and pasted into your site. I don’t think my point is in any way invalidated. Is it not true that the church has seldom held perpetrators within it’s leadership responsible for their deeds?

  • Justin

    Jesus specifically said in the bible that that was wrong. He said that the golden rule was not really golden but should be replaced with the new golden rule: treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.

  • Terri

    Agnes, the church has responded positively in many instances. The Church teaches the truth of Jesus Christ. The people who make up the Church are human. Even Jesus had Judas, who betrayed him. You may want to investigate the entire Church and not just use Bordentown as an example. Please pray for God’s kingdom on earth as we travel on the road to our true home with God in heaven. All of us are sinners with free will. God bless you.

  • Personally I hope they are comforted. I note that the same sort of criticism was being leveled at Obama for ignoring the search for Osama ben Laden. Until Osama ben Laden was very suddenly dead. A perfect example of walk softly but carry a big stick. Which is what he does, demonstrably.

  • Annamarie

    Truly, I am getting sick and tired of all these folks claiming “it’s not Islam, it’s the wackos within in it.” Never have I read a religious text of any kind which openly encourages the killing (in various gory ways) of anyone who did not immediately cave in to declare Islam the only “true” religion! I dare say that, if God forbid, our great nation WAS taken over by Muslims, all these “moderate” Muslims would not be so moderate any longer! They would likely get out the hatchets to do in all us “evil Christians” (or as they call it, a religion of pigs!) before you could say Al-Queda!

  • Guest.too

    As usual, Mr Kofler, you only listen for 10-15 seconds and pronounce your judgment. You extreme conservatism never attributes any good to President Obama. He did talk about finding justice, many times! Even though we may not agree with everything he says, quit making up stuff for those whose hearing is impaired. Of course, that may apply to you too.